Posted By Jeff Fletcher on February 22, 2011 8:39 am
I’m at Salt River Fields (picture here), the new spring home of the Rockies and DBacks, and it’s pretty darn awesome. The Rockies’ clubhouse is palacial. Tons of room for everything (except a media work room). It’s also right next door to the casino, which is a definite plus. Anyway, you don’t care about that. What you care about is whether the Rockies will be better than the Giants this year.
It’s going to be close, for sure. I think the Rockies definitely had more go wrong for them last year, so I think they are more likely to go up than down.
We all assume that the Giants have better pitching, and they do, but it’s not as dramatic as you’d think.
Tim Lincecum vs. Ubaldo Jimenez is probably pretty close to a push. Maybe a slight edge to Lincecum, because he’s done it a couple more years, but Jimenez was pretty awesome last year. People saw that he slumped in the second half, but he still finished with a 2.88 ERA, including 2.63 on the road. Lincecum’s ERA was 3.43 last year, 3.17 on the road.
Jonathan Sanchez is pretty similar to Jorge De La Rosa. Last year De La Rosa was very good in the second half. He also missed 13 starts last year because of an injury, so the Rockies will be better if he’s healthy.
The Rockies third best starter, not necessarily their No. 3, is Jhoulys Chacin (3.28 ERA). The 23-year-old performed pretty similarly to Madison Bumgarner (3.00), considering the ballparks. Bumgarner may have a higher ceiling, but he is also a question mark because of his increase in innings last year.
The difference is the Rockies have two back-end guys, Jason Hammel and Aaron Cook, while the Giants just have Barry Zito. I’d say all three of those guys figure to be worse than average, but not awful, big league starters.
Yes, I left out Matt Cain. He’s the difference.
The Rockies can nearly match the Giants in the 1, 3, 4 and 5 spots. The biggest difference is they have two No. 5s and no No. 2 (to compare with Cain).
As for the bullpen, the Rockies didn’t pitch as well as the Giants last year, but the Rockies had closer Huston Street face some injury issues last year, so I expect he’ll be better. They also added Matt Lindstrom. Between Street, Rafael Betancourt and Lindstrom, that’s three guys who can close. The Giants are going to lean heavily on Brian Wilson to maintain his performance and hope that career-year guys like Santiago Casilla, Rafael Ramirez and Javy Lopez can do it again. No sure thing.
So, as a whole, I’d say the Giants pitching staff still gets an edge, but not a huge one. Can it be enough to make up for the fact that the Rockies have a better corps of position players (see any match for Tulowitzki and CarGo in SF?) and they play much better defense?
By the way, I also think the Dodgers are going to be better this year, but that’s for another day.